As President Bush weighs new strategies for Iraq, the Army's top general warned today that his force "will break" without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves. Noting the strain put on the force by operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the global war on terrorism, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said he wants to grow his half-million-member Army beyond the 30,000 troops already added in recent years. (...) "Over the last five years, the sustained strategic demand ... is placing a strain on the Army's all-volunteer force," Schoomaker told the commission in a Capitol Hill hearing. "At this pace ... we will break the active component" unless reserves can be called up more to help, Schoomaker said in prepared remarks.This is because the Army is essentially dimensioned for major combat operations, not prolonged counter-insurgency campaigns -- and of course because, even in spite of the Stryker efficiency restructuring, US forces still are back-office heavy compared to others.
An interesting strategic aspect appears when comparing defense budgets before and after the end of the Cold War. During the cold war, NATOs troops were in an all or nothing situation -- either sitting in their barracks or facing tactical nukes in the Fulda Gap. Luckily, they could keep sitting. After, in the immediate aftermath everyone talked about and effectuated the 'peace dividend', meaning defense budget cuts because of the threat reduction. The new, real post-cold war challenge means a lot more real figthing for Weestern troops -- and it means extended involvements for NATO troops. When coupling the S&R troop deployment requirement with the peace dividend size budgets in the rest of the NATO countries, something doesn't add up.
Basically, the strategic reality of S&R and state building means that is an argument to spend more money on defense. But manpower intensive spending, not technology. And then more money for civilian side reconstruction. But that is another story.